My key takeaway from this pandemic so far has been how important it is to be willing to change and adapt almost everything we do to suit the situation we find ourselves in.
This global pandemic led to an abrupt change in our daily routine, and we were all forced to adapt quickly to the so-called 'new normal'. We had our first lockdown here in Ireland, on March 12th 2020. While we were all as a country left facing the unknown, I think there was an added sense of uncertainty for athletes with no clear picture of how the season ahead would unfold, if at all.
Covid-19 forced all gyms to close, and home workouts suddenly became a big part of my life. I was lucky enough to be training with Fit4Racing who adapted really quickly to my home gyms' confinements and the limited space and equipment available (basic barbell, kettlebells, bands etc.) This structure made things that little bit easier.
I also introduced a new aspect to my training by taking up a Yoga/Flexibility class over Zoom with Trailside Sports Therapy. I am already feeling the benefits of integrating a new side to my training which fits in mountain biking. I find it gives me an escape from the stresses that life amid a pandemic holds.
I also decided to give myself the added challenge of keeping my step count high each day, with a total step goal to reach at the end of each month. I found it encouraged me to get out in the fresh air during the day and take a break from my studies. I find myself much more productive after exercise, and it also helps to satisfy the competitive Leah!
The Covid-19 travel restrictions involved not being allowed to travel further than 5km from our homes for exercise and within this to do such exercise either alone or with family members only. These restrictions had a major impact on my on-the-bike training. Luckily for me, I have a local spot within my 5km radius, which has seen many hours this summer and winter so far! I am extremely grateful to have been able to share these rides with my dad and brother (keeping within our family bubble). In times like these, it really is those little things that count.
These travel restrictions ultimately lead to the cancellation of the majority of the domestic race season, and after a lot of thought/deliberation and discussions with my family, I decided that the right thing for me was not to travel abroad to race EWS. so unfortunately, I had to cancel entries, flights, accommodation etc. to all the European rounds. That was not an easy decision for Competitive athlete Leah to make, but with the combination of foreign travel restrictions, self-isolation periods and protecting vulnerable family members in my home, I do think it was the correct decision for me to make.
I was really happy to have been able to squeeze in some domestic racing between lockdowns. These were at short notice, and I definitely noticed on my sudden return to racing that I was missing that sharpness out of the start gate. So for this offseason, I will be practising a lot more timed stage sessions with the aim to be much more prepared for whatever next season will hold.
One of the biggest challenges for me was not having a solid race calendar to plan my training around. It was challenging to train week on week without an ultimate goal to ramp up to, like a National Champs or a big European race. But on the plus side, all of that also means that I have been able to try new things with my training which I feel will benefit me in the future - like the old saying goes "every cloud has a silver lining"…
You can follow Leah on Instagram to keep up with her training in 2021. You can also keep up-to-date with all the latest Liv Cycling news by following us on Instagram @LivCyclingUK, Twitter @LivCyclingUK or like us on Facebook.